Resorts are still more than Net Promoter Scores



The NPS barometer

We have a client in the ski resort industry that answers the question, “How are we doing as an organization?” by studying movement within the Net Promoter Scores they constantly collect through research.

“We utilize NPS as a tool to measure how we are doing in our guest’s eyes,” said Brian Fairbank, Chairman of the Fairbank Group, which includes enterprises such as Jiminy Peak, Cranmore Mountain Resort, and Bromley ski areas. “The guest experience is the most critical aspect of our business and NPS shows us the areas we need to focus on to improve that experience.”

The NPS number isn’t the only KPI they’re looking at, but it’s viewed as the report card for the entire organization and when it moves north, there is great happiness.

For the record, the NPS asks the question: “How likely are you to recommend [Name of Brand] to a friend?” It originated around 2003 in a Harvard Business Review article called “The One Number You Need to Grow.”

It has been embraced notably by Bain & Co as well as a fudgezillion other companies. In fact, NPS been around nearly 11 years – and there’s really nothing else to replace it. So here’s our take on the net worth of net promoter scores.

Why the NPS is good

It’s real simple. It’s really just 3 numbers. You – and everyone in the company – can get your head around it.

It’s conversational. Because of the impact of social media, brands today live (and die) in conversation to a greater extent than ever. So what better way to understand brand performance than to ask how a consumer would talk about it to a friend? The NPS detects the degree to which a human is personally invested in vouching for a brand.

You get clear lines of engagement. In classic NPS segmentation, customers respond on a 0-to-10 point rating scale and are categorized as follows:

  • Promoters (score 9-10) are loyal enthusiasts who will keep buying and refer others, driving growth.
  • Passives (score 7-8) are satisfied but unenthusiastic. Beware: You can lose them to competition.
  • Detractors (score 0-6) can hurt you through negative word-of-mouth.

NPS helps organize the brand apostles. Those 9s and 10s are the ones spreading the word. They can form the basis of a loyalty program, an advisory panel, or an informal sounding board for brand development.

It shows you where you’re vulnerable. There’s plenty of evidence to support the idea that most growth opportunities are actually retention opportunities. By dealing with unhappy campers effectively, you can win hearts and wallets. So consider that the 0-6 crowd is potentially as valuable as the 9s and 10s.

The limitations of NPS

It needs to be consistently implemented across lots of areas. To understand a total NPS rating, resorts need to dissect the consumer experience in a number of areas: Lift lines, concessions, rental equipment, dining, lodging, parking, and so forth. Only this way can you tell how individual strengths and weaknesses are impacting the whole experience. Adobe has a good blog on this.

It can be shallow – and it mandates more research. We believe the biggest single disadvantage of the NPS is often the lack of ability to identify and act upon driving factors behind customers’ responses to the question. So the real value of the NPS only happens when you drill down into it. Otherwise it’s a number on a board.

The takeaway

Combine your NPS score with other KPIs that are focused on other aspects of the brand experience such as:

  • Search volume. Search activity around specific marketing programs will tell you if marketing is actually driving sales – and identify the front end of the consumer experience rather than the back end.
  • Verbatims. There’s no substitute for listening to voices, in focus groups or on the phone or in person.
  • Shadow shopping. One criticism of NPS is that the number doesn’t say anything about consumer behavior. Try observing consumers on the resort property as they arrive and leave. Their attitudes and energy will tell you a lot.


When it’s time to talk research, we’re never bored. So join us for a beverage sometime soon.


When proofreaders fall asleep


In marketing, we strive for precision in language.

Every word we write for a client gets scrutinized. We go for concision and speed of communication in our messages. We strive for error-free text. The reason: Because copy matters.

But nobody bats a thousand.

We need look no farther than print journalism to discover how close disaster is when we take the English language in hand as a means of talking to the masses. Here, for the record, are our favorite botched newspaper headlines, for your edification, entertainment, and response.

No. 7. Unfortunate imagery.
Panda bears won’t mate, veterinarian takes over
This one produced nightmares and other behavioral disorders among our staff.

No. 6. Really?
Cold wave linked to temperatures
So idiotic, it’s brilliant.

No. 5. Really? Part 2.
Study: Teen pregnancy drops off after age 19
You can’t put a price on good research.

No. 4. Duh.
Man, 52, is fatally slain

No. 3. According to Nike.
Tiger Woods plays with own balls, Nike says.
If Nike said it, it must be true.

No. 2. Duh, Part 2
Something went wrong in airplane crash, say experts.
We await the full report.

No. 1. So bad, it’s great
Camouflage vehicle disappears
It begs the question: How hard did they really look for it?

Anyhow, nothing wrong with having a little fun at work. When you’re in the mood, join us for a beverage.

SEO for CMOs: What you need to know


Is your brand getting buried alive on search?

When was the last time you clicked through to the second or (gasp) third page of Google in search of a listing for your company’s content? It’s a terrible feeling, as if your content is getting buried alive. It’s important for companies to keep an eye on their rankings for branded, non-branded, and industry terms – and understand how SEO is changing.

Keeping pace with search sophistication.

When search engines were first being used, there was less content Out There. The internet was simpler. A website would only use page titles, meta-descriptions and alt attributes to describe the content that was on a given page.

But search got smarter, and algorithms started discerning which sources of information were better than others. For example, Googlebot – the web crawler that looks for new and updated pages – started assigning more importance to content based on the credibility of the source.

SEO Evolution Timeline

Algorithms: Taking a deeper dive

As search engines got better at patrolling the web, they started looking at factors like inbound/outbound linking, anchor text, domain names and registration information. Then algorithms focused on domain authority (which relies heavily on other sites linking back to yours) and diversity of the external link sources. Linking between two or three sites wasn’t enough anymore.

The most recent and advanced algorithm turn the internet into a popularity contest. Social mentions are important, especially those from (wait for it) Google+. And there is a strong focus on user behavior: Once a visitor hits your site, are they easily finding what they are looking for?

Google wants to ensure content legitimacy, which is all good. Having a physical business location, contact page, and better user interaction are good criteria for search hierarchy. But to win at the game you have to know the rules of the road.

Content is still king.

Content has withstood the test of time admirably. There’s no substitute for having good, useful, usable content.

Keyword stuffing, duplicated content, invisible text, and other black hat tricks have been used to elevate search visibility, but unethical or illegal measures to rank your site higher on Google will most likely result in penalties such as lower rankings or being banned from the index. Our advice: make really good content experiences the centerpiece of your SEO strategy – and stay alert for new SEO advancements.

If you’d like an SEO update, feel free to contact us.